When I said that Corey Lewandowski, then Trump’s campaign manager, had grabbed and bruised me at a rally in 2016, Trump World called me a liar.
“It’s a hoax,” pro-Trump voices on Twitter and in parts of right-wing media claimed. They reasoned that I, a Breitbart reporter sent to cover the rally, had teamed up with The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, who witnessed the incident and wrote about it, to bring down the Trump campaign. I had faked the bruises on my arm and manufactured the audio recording of the incident.
It was all a crazy conspiracy theory. At the time, I assumed that many Trump supporters didn’t actually believe it; they just latched onto it because of partisan zealotry. But I’m starting to think that I was wrong. Perhaps they really did believe that I made up the story, because they themselves were capable of such a thing.
On Wednesday, the White House revoked the press pass of the CNN reporter Jim Acosta for “placing his hands on a young woman,” according to a tweet by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sanders was referring to an incident at the post–midterm election White House press conference. An intern went to take a microphone away from Acosta during a testy exchange he was having with the president, and Acosta refused to give up the mic.
You can watch the video for yourself. If you do, I’m sure you’ll agree that if there was any contact, it was purely incidental and Acosta didn’t initiate it. You can accuse Acosta of grandstanding, but he didn’t come close to assaulting a young female intern.
But observable reality doesn’t seem to be causing any concern in the White House press shop. On Thursday, Sanders doubled down, tweeting out a new video, which appears to have been doctored, to try to prove that Acosta karate-chopped the young intern. Later still, she again tried to justify the administration’s decision: “The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not? The video is clear; he did. We stand by our statement.”